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Senators float trade sanctions against Russia over Snowden

A Senate panel on Thursday approved a State Department funding bill with a provision aimed at pressuring Russia to reject asylum for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

The provision, authored by Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamNew Lincoln Project ad goes after Lindsey Graham: 'A political parasite' The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day Biden's polling lead over Trump looks more comfortable than Clinton's MORE (R-S.C.), was adopted unanimously by the Senate Appropriations Committee. It states that if Snowden is granted asylum, then the secretary of State must consult with Congress on possible sanctions.

“The Committee notes that certain countries have offered asylum to Edward Snowden, an American citizen who divulged classified information to the press. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to consult with the appropriate congressional committees on sanction options against any country that provides asylum to Mr. Snowden, including revocation or suspension of trade privileges and preferences,” the Graham amendment states.

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The language of the Graham amendment stops well short of actually imposing sanctions. Furthermore, Russia is now a member of the World Trade Organization, so trade sanctions by the U.S. could invite WTO-approved retaliation.

Graham has been a leading critic of Russia's handling of Snowden, and has said President Obama should consider boycotting the Winter Olympics next year in Sochi, Russia, if the country decides to harbor him.

Snowden remains at an airport in Moscow and is seeking documents to travel in Russia.

Graham's sanctions provision is now part of the Senate’s funding bill for the State Department in 2014, which was approved by the full committee on Thursday.

Overall, the State Department and foreign operations appropriations title spends $50.6 billion. That is $10 billion more than the House is proposing, but a cut of $2.7 billion from 2013.

The bill passed committee on a 23 to 7 vote.

Seven Republicans joined Democrats in approving the bill, underscoring GOP divisions on spending cuts to the budget next year. They were: Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - One week out, where the Trump, Biden race stands The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day House Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation MORE (Maine), Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranObama endorses Espy in Mississippi Senate race Espy wins Mississippi Senate Democratic primary Bottom Line MORE (Miss.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day Harris blasts GOP for confirming Amy Coney Barrett: 'We won't forget this' MORE (Alaska), Graham, Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Senate makes SCOTUS nominee Barrett a proxy for divisive 2020 Senate Republicans scramble to put Trump at arm's length Liberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP MORE (Ill.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntPower players play chess match on COVID-19 aid GOP to Trump: Focus on policy Low-flying helicopters to measure radiation levels in DC before inauguration MORE (Mo.) and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranLobbying world This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg acknowledges failure to take down Kenosha military group despite warnings | Election officials push back against concerns over mail-in voting, drop boxes MORE (Kan.)

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Ranking Member Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said he voted against the bill because it contributes to a $1.058 trillion topline level of 2014 spending that exceeds the level imposed by sequestration.

Graham said he is proud of the bill and especially new restrictions on aid to Egypt after the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.

“Is it a coup? Sounds like it to me,” he said. “Having said that Egypt was running down a dangerous road under Morsi.”

The bill divides up the $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt into four pieces and conditions 75 percent of it of various democratization steps.

The committee adopted several controversial amendments.

One, adopted by a 19 to 11 vote, was authored by Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuBottom line A decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth Congress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face MORE (D-La.) would allow funding for UNESCO for a specific Louisiana project, despite a ban on UNESCO dealings due to their recognition of Palestine.

Another, passed 17 to 12, would fund International Criminal Court efforts to prosecute Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony.

Finally an amendment by Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenTrump makes rare campaign stops in New England in closing stretch GOP coronavirus bill blocked as deal remains elusive Justice indicts two members of ISIS 'Beatles' cell MORE (D-N.H.) would permanently end the so-called global gag rule that, before suspended by President Obama, would cut off funding for international groups that also promote abortion.

It passed 19 to 11.